Your Staycation Is Both Boring and Lousy for Your Health
Whether it’s a canceled flight, hidden rental car fees or a hotel room that smells like mildew farts, traveling can be stressful enough to require the proverbial vacation from your vacation. But before you turn this damn car around, there’s emerging evidence that all the hassle of taking a trip away from home might be worth it after all.
Researchers from University College London recently found that people who regularly travel more than 15 miles away from their residence report being healthier than those who do not. Their findings, published in the journal Transport & Health, were based on the responses of 3,014 adults who lived in the north of England, where both rural and suburban areas lack access to quality public transportation. Participants completed an online survey about how often they traveled outside of their hometown, the number of different places they traveled to, the distance traveled and whether they used a car or public transportation. Then researchers compared this to participants’ self-rated health status.
“We expected to find that restrictions on travel through a lack of access to suitable public transport or to a private car would be linked to residents’ perception of their health because of the lack of social participation,” Paulo Anciaes, lead author of the study and senior researcher at University College London, explained in a press release. “We explored the links between constraints to travel more than 15 miles from home, demographics and location and social participation in how residents perceived their own health, finding that the key variable is the number of different places people visit outside their local area. This links to more social participation and better health.”
Anciaes and his colleagues concluded that the link between travel and better health was strongest for people 55 and older who tended to use their getaways to visit family and friends. Again, this mostly came down to how vital social connections are for mental and physical health, especially as you get older. “Those aged over 55 are more likely to face other constraints to travel such as limited mobility. They are also more likely to suffer from loneliness,” Anciaes said. “The results of this study emphasize the need for public policies that reduce constraints to travel in the region, by providing better options for private and public transport that allows for more frequent and longer trips.”
In other words, dodging the inevitable ills of aging might just be a matter of making sure you’re getting out of dodge enough.